The generally accepted definition of terrorism is that it’s the use of violence to create fear in a society in order to induce political change. I don’t think that’s the case with the man who flew his plane into the IRS building. This was just an angry man, acting as an individual, attacking those he saw as destroying his life. The fact of the matter is that it was an act of revenge, not terror.
But according to the FBI, terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property, meant to intimidate or coerce a government or the civilian population as a means for achieving political or social goals. It’s to their advantage to see this as an act of domestic terrorism. It makes their jobs seem important and will result in more personnel to fill their gigantic new Homeland Security complex in DC, and more funding to look into Americans’ comings, goings, and thoughts.
Joseph Stack’s call to violence seemed like an after- thought to me. In reality he’s just calling for the righting of egregious wrongs. However, it’s getting to the point in the United States that you have to be careful about even complaining, or you might be put on some kind of watch list. You actually better be careful about what you say, and how, and to whom. The walls have ears, as the Soviets, among others, used to say.
The media has downplayed his letter as a “rant” or a “screed” penned by a lunatic, partially to be self-righteous and partially to discourage others from reading it and thinking about it. But it’s actually worth reading and thinking about. It’s not that often you get to read a suicide note written by what appeared to be quite an intelligent guy. His letter is a little disjointed, agitated, and a bit ungrammatical at times — after all, it is a suicide note — but it’s not at all irrational. And I suspect he put his finger on what is probably going on in the minds of a fair percentage of the population.
You know the old saw people once used, but don’t any- more, as it’s become politically incorrect? Three guys are doing the same thing, and one says, “I’m a freedom fighter. You’re a rebel. He’s a terrorist.” So, bandying these terms around makes conversation difficult. The FBI’s definition is self-serving and, in this case, serves — perhaps not accidentally — to obscure the truth of the matter.